How to Remove Packing Tape Adhesive

Written by laurie phillips
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How to Remove Packing Tape Adhesive
Rolls of packing tape. (slushpup/

Packing tape is made to stick, and it works. Unfortunately, the adhesive may continue to stick after the tape is removed. That sticky residue rarely scrapes off, is impervious to water and won't dissolve on its own. If you ignore it, unwanted packing tape adhesive will stick to other items, attract dirt and may ruin the appearance of your property. Fortunately, some simple solutions can help remove tape residue. No one method is appropriate for every situation, but the options to remove tape adhesive are few and easy to master.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Hand-held hairdryer
  • Rags
  • Household oil-based product such as furniture oil, citrus oil cleaner or cooking oil
  • Commercial solvent-based goo remover
  • Bucket of hot, soapy water
  • Sponge

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    How to Remove Packing Tape Adhesive

  1. 1

    Remove all remaining tape. For stubborn tape, set the hairdryer on medium heat and hold it 12 inches away. This will soften the tape enough to let you tear it off. More heat will not help you finish faster. Instead it will separate the tape from the adhesive, leaving you with a bigger area to clean.

  2. 2

    Apply a few drops of the oil-based product to a rag, and rub it on a small test area of adhesive. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes, and then wipe it with a dry rag. If the residue comes off, repeat on the rest of the adhesive. If the adhesive is still there, reapply the oil, and let it sit for another ten minutes before wiping it off. Use a rag to remove the rest of the oil.

  3. 3

    If the adhesive doesn't come off with oil-based products, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Repeat a test with a commercial solvent-based goo remover, usually available in the paint section of hardware stores. The solvents may contain petroleum and other chemicals that dissolve or neutralise the sticky residue. However, they can also damage the surface. Glass, plastic, painted items and finished wood are particularly susceptible to damage from solvent-based products. Read the label thoroughly and test a small, inconspicuous area first. If the residue dissolves without causing damage, apply the solvent as instructed to the rest of the adhesive.

  4. 4

    Clean the surface with a sponge and hot, soapy water. Both the oil- and solvent-based products may require more than one washing.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use wet wipes on products such as electronics on which you can't use soapy water.
  • The solvent-based products are flammable. Rags with solvent can ignite. Only use these products in well-ventilated areas.
  • Damage from solvents is irreversible, so be sure to try the oil-based method first.

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